Right-hander Drew Storen is still on track to return by the All-Star break. Storen has been recovering from elbow surgery to remove a bone chip.
He said he would actually like to get back into a few games while the team is at home, right before the break in mid-July, maybe against the Giants or Rockies from July 3-8.
Storen said he is still in the building process to get back to being game-ready. He said the adrenaline level for a bullpen session is different from a game in spring training and even more different than a game against the Phillies or a playoff-clinching game. The way you handle each of those types of games has to be ramped up too. But, he is making great progress in his mechanics and command as his strength returns.
"Every time you move into a new step, it is an acclimation period," Storen said. "You kind of get used to it, and you have to listen to your body. I haven't had any pain, and it feels like it is getting stronger every day. There has been legitimate improvement. The last bullpen I threw (in Florida on Friday) is probably the best I felt. I am feeling really good. My command is good and my mechanics are still there. I am pretty happy with where I am at."
Storen would prefer to stick around with the team when they head to Denver and Atlanta next week.
His next bullpen is scheduled for tomorrow.
Sunday, the Nationals designated veteran reliever Brad Lidge for assignment and activated Ryan Mattheus. Storen spoke before this news broke, but he did say that manager Davey Johnson has done a good job of maintaining the bullpen through injuries and rough patches.
"I think Davey has done a great job of keeping guys in their roles for as much as things have been moving around," Storen said. "In years past, it was random roles even when guys were healthy."
And Storen has enjoyed watching Tyler Clippard embrace the closing spot in his absence, but does have one piece of advice for the veteran hurler.
"It is fun to watch (Tyler)," Storen said. "I am glad he got the opportunity. He has got the mentality down. I told him he has got to work on his celebrations (laughs)."